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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The PM must be liberal in giving credit to Vajpayee for his bold initiatives on the US, China and Pakistan

Home > Edits & Columns > Big deal. Big heart? C. Raja Mohan Indian Express: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 US offered India the nuke agreement. What’s India offering its smaller neighbours? That’s a great power test
To be sure, sections of the BJP leadership will persist with the elevation of opportunism above the NDA’s own proud record of laying the foundation for the unfolding nuclear rapprochement with the US and the world. On the left, the two communist parties will find it difficult to swallow the historic redefinition of India’s global nuclear standing and the long overdue transformation of Indo-US relations...
There is indeed a real danger that the BJP, which had the courage to depart from the old paradigm with China and Pakistan, might be tempted again to attack the results of these negotiations. Whether the BJP is ready to play a constructive role or not, the PM must be liberal in giving credit to Vajpayee for his bold initiatives on the US, China and Pakistan. As Indian diplomacy succeeds, there will be enough credit to go around, and then some...
India’s nuclear debate was, in essence, about building a different relationship with the United States. A similar arrangement with either Russia or France would never have raised the kind of political storm the negotiations with the US did. This was inevitable, given the historically difficult relationship that India has had with the United States...
Yet India’s nuclear debate revealed the mindset of a weak third world state rather than of an emerging power, with a trillion dollar economy and a per capita income of a thousand dollars. The India of the 21st century is not the nation of 1974 that conducted a nuclear test but backed off in the face of relentless international sanctions. An India that is aware of its own rise amidst a redistribution of global power will be less obsessed with the text of its international agreements.
That there is no national shame in a sensible compromise should be the fifth lesson we should take away from the nuclear debate. Like any agreement between two individuals or entities, the 123 agreement too is a compromise...
That India is on the verge of regaining international cooperation in civilian nuclear energy without giving up its nuclear weapon programme is indeed a cause for celebration. Yet, India must also learn the art of giving besides knowing how to extract the most. Great powers are expected to make some sacrifices to preserve regional and global order. It is that capacity to be generous, especially towards smaller neighbours, that offers a final test for India’s credibility as the world’s newest great power. The writer is a professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

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